NOI 32: A Federal Court Blocks Trump’s Health Insurance Requirement for New Immigrants

Earlier this week headlines broke about another court ruling blocking another piece of the Trump administration's efforts to prevent poorer immigrants from entering the U.S.

Jacob Tingen: Okay, let’s try this again. Hello Nation of Immigrants. Thank you and welcome for coming back. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve done this program. I’ve been a little busy representing some clients and pushing out some asylum applications, but we’re back today, and we’re talking about some headlines that I missed earlier in the week that I wanted to talk about having to do with the Trump administration’s kind of health care push. It’s part of their public charge initiative to keep poor immigrants out of the country, or so-called poor immigrants out of the country. So now what we’re seeing now is that courts, the inevitable court challenge came, and the health care rule or proclamation that had come out of the White House has been overruled. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today, along with some other headlines that I thought were interested that are kind of indirectly related to healthcare and immigration. So we’ll talk about that in a bit here on Nation of Immigrants.

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Announcer: … a podcast about us immigration law with your host, Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. So like I said, we’re going to be talking about this healthcare ruling that came out. We talked about the proclamation when was first issued back in episode 21. We did mention that this had happened, that the White House had issued this proclamation. The headline I’m reading on the Washington Post Judge temporarily blocks Trump order requiring would-be immigrants to prove they have health insurance. So this kind of goes back to another thing that we’ve talked about how the Trump administration and people who back kind of his immigration policies, they’re fond of saying, “Oh, I love legal immigration, bring on the legal immigrants,” and yet this is one of those things that attacks legal immigration. Trump and his public comments and others who support him have made comments also against chain migration, and family migration, but that’s legal immigration.

Jacob Tingen: When you’ve got a family basis for coming into the United States, that immigration is allowed and legal. So what this ruling is this well what this proclamation was intended to do was essentially just cut off immigration for all but the most wealthy of people from around the world. Because health insurance, being able to prove that upon your arrival to the United States before you get here, that you’ve already arranged for that, I get that that is a good … Anybody who’s looking to become self reliant should be looking to get adequate health and life insurance, but that’s hardly a requirement I think for living here. It’s definitely way beyond the meaning of public charge. We’ve looked at this, other judges have looked at this, and that’s just not where society falls down on this issue. But anyway, let’s take a look at kind of this headline, this article, and see some of the concerns that they brought up.

Jacob Tingen: So the first issue that’s kind of in the article is that this is a temporary restraining order. It’s in effect for about a month. The government and the plaintiff’s lawyers in this suit are going to have to present evidence in favor of their arguments. So it went into effect a day before this proclamation was supposed to take effect. It’s a temporary restraining order. We’ll see how it plays out over the next 30 days or so. So this rule requiring health insurance, that immigrants show that they’re going to have health insurance within 30 days of their arrival in the United States came from this October proclamation from President Trump.

Jacob Tingen: What it does is it kind of depresses again more opportunities for people to come legally to our country, but it also creates a lot of confusion, and as is a frequent theme in the Trump administration’s relationship to immigrants who are present here lawfully in the United States, an environment, an ambiance of just general fear, and concern, and confusion. So the confusion was felt in a couple of different ways. This article points out that lawyers, government lawyers who were in charge of implementing this policy were questioning if it was even legal, but then also immigrants and people here in the United States again who are related to immigrants are concerned about running a foul of all of these new and changing public charge rules that are out there.

Jacob Tingen: One of the things that I thought was interesting, the proclamation also required that even those who qualified for a federal tax subsidy to help them buy health insurance on the Obamacare individual market would have to reject that option although there is no mechanism on the federal health exchange website to do so. I just think that’s crazy. They’re like, “Sure, buy healthcare on the exchange, but you can’t use any subsidy that’s offered to you. Oh, but by the way, there’s no mechanism or procedure for you to reject that subsidy.”

Jacob Tingen: So it’s just kind of interesting that this proclamation was issued without any thought as to how it would be implemented. Now maybe, maybe they would say, “Oh well we’re going to make it presumably by the time this goes into effect that for those who purchase health insurance on the exchange, that there would be an option to choose not to accept the subsidy,” but that’s not realistic. Obviously I mean I haven’t heard any news that that happened, and it’s quite the opposite. The general effect of these policies is just to prevent people from coming to the US, not to actually take a deep dive into how are we going to actually accomplish this.

Jacob Tingen: Then I think it’s also just important to recognize that this rule didn’t come out of nothing. It’s coming from this whole public charge push, which again, the whole point here is to exclude poor immigrants from coming to the United States, the idea, or justification being like, “Well what can they contribute? They’re poor,” an argument and a philosophy that I reject, and if you’ve been listening to this, you already know that. So it’s interesting kind of what this article has to say about the temporary injunction. It mentions a lot of the different concerns that come up. So, for example, during our conference call on October, officials within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS raised practical and legal questions about implementing the proclamation. One attorney said, “I’m really thinking that in many ways sticking to the letter of the proclamation will cause us to run a foul of current laws on the books.”

Jacob Tingen: Now of course that agency is denying that statement, but that’s a normal question to ask I imagine when you’re implementing any new regulation or law it’s like, “All right, how are we going to stay legal?” It’s appropriate for a lawyer to opine that and say, “Hey, what are we going to do to solve this,” and yet from the administration we’ve got this, no, no, no, just this kind of hard push. The effects on immigrants are interesting. Every time something like this comes out from the White House administration about public charge, or health insurance, or these issues, our clients call us concerned, and they need and want to know answers.

Jacob Tingen: Unfortunately with this level of flux where a proclamation is issued from the White House one day, and then it’s struck down in a court the next, it’s almost, well it’s very difficult to know how to advise clients, but we do the best we can by staying on top of the news, and by being connected with a lot of organizations that do a lot of good, one of those organizations, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who is one of the organizations involved in the case that that brought about this temporary injunction and this block, so that’s pretty much it. There’s not a whole lot to say about the case except that it’s been blocked.

Jacob Tingen: What’s interesting is that we should see news in about a month. So look for another headline on this issue, and we’ll talk about it again as it comes up. Now, one of the things that I just can’t understand is I don’t, I guess I want to use the term ignorance, just kind of, but not in the mean way, just kind of like in the not knowing stuff way. People don’t know everything they need to know, right? So, and I’ll use the example of Donald Trump saying that they were going to build a wall in Colorado so that the New Mexicans couldn’t get over.

Jacob Tingen: Well, it’s interesting, there’s a student, there’s a headline, CVS rejects Purdue student’s Puerto Rican ID, asks for immigration papers to buy cold medicine. First of all, I don’t know why you would need immigration papers to buy medicine. CVS employees aren’t ICE or affiliated with the ICE in any way. I don’t understand why any ID wouldn’t be sufficient for them. But here’s the other issue is that Puerto Rico does not make you an immigrant. People who are born in Puerto Rico and, okay, so maybe some people from Puerto Rico consider themselves immigrants, and that’s fine, but if you’re born in Puerto Rico, you’re a US citizen, right? So I just think that that’s important to point out. But what’s interesting in this article that, “What caused this employee to ask him for his visa,” someone wrote in a Facebook post. “Was it his accent, his skin color?”

Jacob Tingen: “Was it the Puerto Rican flag on the license?” So it’s very interesting that this would even happen at all. It’s unclear as to why someone would believe that this was in any way a good idea to ask a Puerto Rican for, “Excuse me, you need immigration paperwork.” Puerto Ricans are us citizens. Yeah, it’s just kind of mind boggling to me that this even happened at all. But that’s kind of the climate we’re in where people feel emboldened to be like, “Where are you from?” People who perhaps aren’t as kind to or kindhearted towards immigrants as perhaps we should be as a society might reject services to people who they believe don’t merit them by virtue of things like skin color or accent, and that’s a shame. That’s a shame. So those are two kinds of health related headlines, one is of course about this policy for health insurance being blocked.

Jacob Tingen: The other is just kind of this really quirky random thing that happened in a local pharmacy outside Purdue University, so yeah, super strange but hopefully an isolated incident. But unfortunately, as I speak with my clients, they tell me that they do encounter I don’t know if you’d call it racism or nationalism, but bias and prejudice at a lot of turns. So if you know an immigrant, and you’re friendly to immigrants, you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re thinking, “Well we should support legal immigrants and other immigrants as well, especially many who are fleeing harm and violence,” extend to helping hand, be kind, and just have a conversation, and smile, and wish people well on their way. So thanks again for listening to Nation of Immigrants.

Jacob Tingen: I hope you are enjoying the podcast. Again, subscribe on YouTube, follow Facebook, Twitter, and then you can always support the podcast by visiting my website at where I’ll continue to be posting information about Nation of Immigrants. We’re also going to be kicking off another series of videos and potentially a podcast on other legal issues related to our areas of practice, and just kind of our activity in the public sector. So look for more information from me in the future, but we hope to see you around at, on our social media feeds, and of course donating to help pay for immigrants legal bills. Thanks for all that you do. Thanks for your follows, for your kind words, for your comments. We’ll see you next time here on Nation of Immigrants.

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